It’s a common joke around The Watercraft Journal office that we’ve donated more pairs of sunglasses to ol’ King Neptune than anyone else. Our local test lake here in Middle Tennessee has swallowed no less than five pairs in recent years. In our misfortune, we’ve also come to find certain design aesthetics that make for good glasses for personal watercraft riding and what makes for better glasses. And no, it’s not so much about how cool they look (which of course, is always a plus), but how well they adhere to your face while at speed – and more importantly, while moving your head side-to-side – in addition to blocking glare, fit your noggin, or in many cases, float.
Beginning with the latter attribute, we at The Watercraft Journal have found that most (not all) floating sunglasses are bulky, foam-padded affairs that are typically uncomfortable if not completely cumbersome. For this cause, we’ve had such bad luck losing sunglasses to the drink. Erring on the side of comfort has been costly. And when sunglasses claiming to float yet are made from bamboo or other materials arrive, we’ve found that they either float below the surface of the water, making them difficult to spot, or break apart easily (we literally shattered a pair of bamboo glasses earlier this year).
Lastly, is shape. Too often we’ve ventured out with more traditional, flat-framed glasses with unfortunate-yet-predictable results. Even at general cruising speeds, a gust of air at the right angle can quickly whip in between your face and the glasses and send them sailing into the water. Conversely, thicker-framed, “wrap around” glasses shield from this airfoil effect, and stay on as if they were glued down. It was this factor alone that drew us to WindRider’s newest venture into polarized floating sunglasses. A lot of forethought went into these – particularly in regard to this issue – as WindRider incorporated a breathable vent at the outermost edge of the lens. While operable to stave fogging, these slits also serve as a diffuser, letting fast-moving wind equalize as it passes over and under the frame.
Made with a lightweight, flexible rubber-infused plastic frame and composite polarized lenses, the floating WindRider sunglasses are molded into a good-looking, angular design that hugs your eye line naturally and rest high lightly on the bridge of your nose. Lens polarization too, dramatically improves the riding experience as underwater obstacles like grass, branches, or other debris can be easily spotted and avoided. We also want to add that previously, even with more expensive glasses, reading LCD digital dashboards could prove difficult at the wrong angle – not so with these. The polarized lenses work masterfully, and are treated with a hydrophobic coating to repel salt water residue, oil and other contaminants.
Of course, the big question was seeing how well the WindRider glasses would actually float. Unwilling to purposefully fling a pair of sunglasses that we liked off while riding at speed, we started small by dropping them in a 5-gallon bucket. True to their word, the WindRiders bobbed up, their lighter-than-water frames poking up above the surface. Of course, being matte black and smoked-out lenses looks cool, but does make spotting them out on the river a tad more difficult. Nevertheless, we were satisfied that these did in fact float. Add to it, a pair of small eyelits molded into the ends of the arms for a pair of straps was yet another thoughtful feature. Most impressive though was the price.
Retailing for $44.95, the WindRider Polarized Floating Sunglasses are priced just above a pair of cheapo gas station shades, but out perform some glasses we’ve tested that fetch literally three times the cost. Listed on WindRider’s website, but you can also find them on eBay and Amazon within 30 seconds of searching. That being said, make sure to stop in to WindRider’s home page, as they offer a massive array of other outdoor and marine living accessories, equipment and other choice items (we particularly liked all of the foul weather and waterproof clothing offerings).